Post Formats UI Removed From WordPress 3.6

In what many will consider to be sad news, the Post Formats UI that so many people were looking forward to as part of WordPress 3.6 has been stripped from core, for now. The decision was made by Mark Jaquith as the new feature just wasn’t quite ready for prime time. Instead of delaying the release of WordPress 3.6 any longer, most of the work surrounding the Post Formats UI will exist as a plugin. The hope is that by the time 3.7 rolls around, the new Post Formats UI will have had time to mature, stabilize and make a smooth transition back into core.

Post Formats UI

I fought hard for it, and a lot of people put a lot of effort into it. But the result just isn’t compelling, or obvious, or any of the things that it should be. It’s not just a matter of polish, it seems to be a fundamental issue with the concept. The release can’t be held up any longer for this. It needs to come out. I should have made this decision earlier. That’s on me. But letting it ride would be the worse mistake.

Better to take it out now versus shipping it with WordPress 3.6 and not living up to expectations.


37 responses to “Post Formats UI Removed From WordPress 3.6”

  1. Jeffro of WPTavern recently published a wide-ranging piece on the Post Formats grail: Post Format History And WordPress 3.6

    He rounded up his thoughts & conclusions in a key paragraph, which ends:

    Last but not least, I started treating post formats as categories.

    For myself, ways to better-leverage & further-enhance the simple multiple-parent category system of WordPress has long been – Firstly and foremost.

    I immediately start looking for features in the Post Format that can help make categorization more-robust.

  2. I hope this is the best decision. I know few companies, one of them is ElegentThemes, that decided to delay the release of new theme until the release of 3.6 since they want to wait for the new UI for post format. Seems like they have to release the theme now, or wait longer.

  3. Ugh. I’m no longer excited for 3.6. It was the only reason I was excited for a new WP release for the first time in like 3-4 years. Hopefully the plugin (I imagine it’s going to be in Jetpack?) will still work correctly with Twenty Thirteen.

  4. But why would you use a separate post format? I don’t get it. It’s all posts.

    Most likely with a video or audio file you would have an intro bit of text and other elements on the post anyway other than just the separate post item. You can embed all those things INTO a post.

    I still don’t get why you need a separate post type. Please explain. Why would this be useful?

    I can see a lot of users being confused by this. They will click on these new post UI buttons thinking they are insertion buttons for media items so they can insert an image, video, audio file etc.

    I’m sure there are technical and developmental advantages to this but from the average end users perspective this is confusing.

  5. Well at least we’ll still be able to provide access to post formats ( add_theme_support() ), but I was very much looking forward to being able to do this. Lucky I’m training some clients today and won’t have to retrain them much when 3.6 comes out, but to be honest, I’d rather have the new UI and retrain again.

    Oh, and @Rob Lawrence, It’s so that theme developers can change the look of each post depending on the post format. Pretend you select the video post format, and we can make the background of the whole post darker than other posts (so that it’s not distracting to the reader watching the video). The same goes with other things, such as quotes (we can blockquote the content’s tag, and use the contents tag as the author, or similar.

    There’s plenty to do with post formats, and I don’t understand why Jeffro used them as categories, as I don’t see them like that at all. I see them as a way to dynamically and easily make your site much more diverse.

  6. This change, while necessary and probably inevitable, is a huge loss for WordPress 3.6. Sadly, it seems that most people won’t really understand why. To wit:
    @Rob Lawrence

    But why would you use a separate post format? I don’t get it. It’s all posts.

    Most likely with a video or audio file you would have an intro bit of text and other elements on the post anyway other than just the separate post item. You can embed all those things INTO a post.

    I still don’t get why you need a separate post type. Please explain. Why would this be useful?

    I think this is a fundamental misunderstanding of what Post Formats are – and that’s quite sad, because Post Formats are an incredibly rich yet severely under-utilized feature, due to that misunderstanding. Here’s something I wrote – two and a half years ago – detailing just a few of the possibilities with Post Formats, even without the now-removed UI in WordPress 3.6.

    The fundamental misunderstanding of Post Formats is that they are not a post type, but rather a taxonomy. Where as the category and post-tag taxonomies describe the nature of post content, the post format taxonomy describes the format/medium of post content.

    The inherent problem with the original implementation is that it was meant primarily as a taxonomy, rather than as a schema to define standard content for each format type; thus, the underlying API code introduced with the WordPress 3.6 post formats UI improvements would have opened the door to something quite significant: true interoperability and portability among all Themes that support post formats.

    That portability/interoperability is one of the main reasons – if not the main reason – that post formats were first introduced. Prior to post formats, creating a gallery archive required users to create an arbitrary term, as defined by a given Theme, for the category taxonomy. One Theme may require users to create a “gallery” category, while another Theme may require some different term. (See also: “audio” vs “podcast” vs “mp3”, etc.) But with post formats, Themes simply developed around the standard post format term, “gallery”, or “audio”, etc.

    Or another possibility: synchronizing status updates with social network sites. A Plugin developer could easily create a Plugin to push/pull, for example, Tweets – but without the “status” post format type, the Plugin developer would have to use some arbitrary way to determine which posts to push/pull (e.g. via a “tweet” or “twitter” or “status”, etc. category).

    There are so many ideas that implement post formats in interesting and innovative ways.

  7. @Rob Lawrence

    Everything is a post. Why [do/would post sub-elements] need to have a format?!

    Good characterization of post-structures & their costs … and the irritation that added complexity & additional (forced) choices can cause. For some users (er, 97%?), the answer may well be, Blow formats; just lemme make a post, will ya?

    New, extended, fancier data structures for posts (etc) should not require those who don’t savvy document data-elements to ‘go back to school’, in order to make a ‘simple’ post. And it would be a big surprise (and brain-dead boo-boo) if WordPress does ‘stick it their face’; force casual users to jump through a bunch of computer-science hoops, in order to get a post up.

    @Chuck Reynolds

    sigh. … more control for devs.

    Like that ol’ time flash of irritation shown by Rob Lawrence, the dismissive, superioristic [oh dearie me] sigh of Chuck Reynolds is a natural, innate human reaction. In personal settings, it cuts to the chase in no uncertain terms. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a well-placed sigh can be a whole gallery.

    But in public fora? On a website linked to on the Admin page of every WordPress installation out there? This isn’t a “personal setting”. Remember Al Gore, sighing his way through a Presidential debate? That was a human reaction alright; we understand how it works …. but for a clearly superior person, on camera, in front of the whole country, that was pretty stupid.

    It is in the interest of WPTavern, and WordPress more widely, that places like WPTavern be able to happily make a chair for people who will have to be coached through even the most basic quiz on data-structures, etc.

    It is a key goal, that there not be a virtual sign on the tavern door: Devs Only! … and that goal is still a work in progress.

  8. @Chuck Reynolds – That takes a lot of guts to be building something with beta software but on the flip side, this is one of the few times where something was yanked out of WordPress in the beta cycle. I can’t remember the last time something like this happened.

    @Rudd – Yep. I think StudioPress was also waiting for 3.6 to drop before releasing Genesis 2.0.

    @Illya King – Post Formats are theme dependent so if you are using them and you don’t see anything happening, chances are, your theme doesn’t support them.

    @Sallie Goetsch (@salliegoetsch) – Ouch. I saw a tweet by WP101 yesterday saying this is why they don’t start recording videos until a new WordPress version hits release candidate stage.

    @Paul – Well, they’ll be releasing a plugin so those who liked what they saw and used in 3.6 beta will be able to continue using it. It will also continue to get better.

    @Eric Mesa – No it’s not going to be added to Jetpack. It will be a stand alone plugin that will continue to be developed alongside WordPress 3.7. The hope is to reintegrate it with core around WordPress 3.7. Until then, the plugin will have to do.

    @Ryan Hellyer – Removed for now lol.

    @Albert – This has been brought up and it seems like Mark Jaquith agrees. I imagine we will see less post formats in the future, at least ones that are exposed to the public with support for more behind the scenes.

    @Josh Allen – My use of Post Formats I think was all wrong to begin with. It started off with my misunderstanding of what they were and at the time, I don’t think the theme I was using really had good Post Format design. I believe I have a much better understand of Post Formats now and I will utilize them in the new design of WPTavern.

    @Chip Bennett – I’d love to see a list of sites that are really utilizing post formats in WordPress.

  9. On WordPress-dot-Com, still not sites showcasing the deployment of Post Formats, but a nice table of 50 themes, with their various sub-sets of the standard list of Post Format choices:

    Enhance Your Site with Post Formats

    A simple way to add visual variety to your site’s front page is to publish your content using Post Formats. Over 50 of our themes support Post Formats, which means they can display various types of content — including images, videos, quotes, links, audio, and short snippets called “asides” — with different formatting, adding subtle but nice touches to your site.

    Some useful ‘de-abstraction’ going on in this page …

  10. @Jeffro WP 101 has a choice about when to do their recording. My current class started May 8th, runs through mid-June. Next one starts in July. WP 3.6 was supposed to be released before this class started. It seemed irresponsible not to include it, as well as 3.5, in the lectures. I made two sets for post formats, one with 3.5 and Twenty Twelve, one with 3,6 and Twenty Thirteen.

    I am sure Twenty Thirteen will continue to work without the new post format UI, but can’t help feeling that it’s been eviscerated. And post formats ARE more confusing with the old UI, one reason people have mis-used or not used them.

    As far as I could tell, the darn things were WORKING. I used all of them to create those videos. But there must have been some pretty serious problems under the hood if they pulled them. I trust these people not to have done it without good reason, but it’s seriously dismaying.

  11. Kinda sad, was really looking forward to post formats, but I do think it was the right decision. If they aren’t happy with how it’s working now, the backlash from users would have been relentless. Better to upset people by pushing back the release than putting out something that isn’t up to expectations.

  12. I don’t know why they lasted this long, to be honest. Most feature requests are dismissed with the reasoning that they’re not useful to at least 80% of the WP user base, and formats are useful to way fewer than that. To everyone else they are either useless or (worse) confusing. From the start it seemed like something that was being pushed mainly because wanted to include Tumblr-like features.

  13. “Most feature requests are dismissed with the reasoning that they’re not useful to at least 80% of the WP user base, and formats are useful to way fewer than that.” @Michael

    Agreed. It seemed a whim of the core developers, like the useless constant redesigns of the admin interface.

  14. @Michael, @Albert: do you actually have a way to collect statistics on how many people use post formats, or are you generalizing from your personal experience? Millions of people do use WordPress primarily for blogging, or consider a blog an important part of their WP site, and so might well find a better implementation of post formats helpful.

    Most of my clients are using WP more as a CMS than a blog and are not big users of post formats, but one of them just decided to use Asides to announce her workshops, because they show up with a blue background. (She’s using a child theme of Twenty Twelve.) Semantically all wrong, stylistically appealing to her. Technologically she falls into the Hopeless N00b category, but discovered this herself. I have another prospective client who just requested post format styling without knowing that’s what she was asking for. (She wants her photo gallery posts to look different from her text posts.)

    I am not a hopeless n00b, but I found that the new post formats UI made the various post formats easier to use. It was never obvious how the link post format was supposed to work in 3.3-3.5, and having the title disappear in some post formats was a surprise, since it showed up in the editor. The new UI in 3.6 made things more consistent between the editor and the published post. My students were looking forward to it; ditto the members of the East Bay WordPress group, who saw the demo.

    The existing state of post formats needed improving. I think it was already a considerable improvement, and it appeared to be working, though my tests were limited to the Twenty Thirteen theme. Perhaps the UI overhaul is not finished, so needs to wait, but that doesn’t mean it’s not appropriate for core.

    As for the redesigns of the admin interface, they are not a whim, but an attempt to make it more accessible and to fit more things into a cramped area. Also to make the WordPress admin responsive, because the iOS app is of very limited utility. Whether these redesigns are SUCCESSFUL is perhaps another question, but they are done with a purpose.

  15. @Sallie Goetsch (@salliegoetsch)

    It was never obvious how the link post format was supposed to work in 3.3-3.5, and having the title disappear in some post formats was a surprise, since it showed up in the editor. The new UI in 3.6 made things more consistent between the editor and the published post. My students were looking forward to it; ditto the members of the East Bay WordPress group, who saw the demo.

    I too found this to be not only confusing, but frustrating. When I would select a Post Format, I would then preview the post and instead of previewing the post on how it would look with the format applied, I got to see the singlepage.php version of the post which looks the same no matter which format is applied. So it was impossible to preview how a post would look. It was frustrating because if I wanted to use the Quote or Link formats, I would need to browse the archive on my site to remind myself on how the post would look like.

    If somehow, as you said the editor and post previews could be consistent in terms of how the post will look like when published, I think I would have used them more and I bet a lot of other people wouldn’t be so afraid to use them because they would know what the post will look like.

    I hope that somewhat made sense.

  16. @Sallie Goetsch (@salliegoetsch)

    Perhaps the [in-core Post Formats] UI overhaul is not finished, so needs to wait, but that doesn’t mean it’s not appropriate for core.

    Mark Jaquith himself does agree:

    nphaskins 8:21 pm on May 29, 2013

    “It seemed mostly O.K to me kinda sad to hear it was pulled out. So with it going to a plugin does this mean core will never have UI for post formats?

    Mark Jaquith 8:22 pm on May 29, 2013

    Doesn’t mean that! Pulled out to plugin with the hope of eventually reintegrating it. Much like MP6.”

    [emph. added]

    The core team do still feel like they can, and they do intend to build Post Formats into the core. Of course, bigger teams have found their Waterloo on such projections, with more at stake. And, Core et al clearly did not see the current mugging, lurking beside their projected route.

    It is always the worst, to hear of those who have blazed the route pointed to/promised by our leaders, promoting advances to students and businesses who rely upon her. Only for her to have to tell them, ‘Sorry, there isn’t really a path this way yet’.

    Try to straddle both potential outcomes; that it may finally be stabilized in core, but that at least for awhile, it will be done via plugin. Can that be provisionally juggled? And meet the needs of your people?

  17. I can advise those of my students and clients who want it to install the plugin, once said plugin exists and 3.6 is released. I even have time to mention the plugin in the lectures I’m producing now (or supposed to be producing–I seem to be spending all my time commenting on blogs) about plugins. Those of us who want the new UI are not being left entirely out in the cold, just as those who were still making extensive use of links were not. But what, now, is the core of the 3.6 release? What is there for people to be excited about? Twenty Thirteen as a theme is less interesting without the new post format UI. This was the big new feature. There are still some menu modifications, and will still, we hope, be native support for audio and video, which is good. But most of the rest of the changes are under the hood.

  18. If they just made a little button that said “change format” and opened up the post formats UI that would probably solve about 99% of the problem.

    The “smart” people can use that feature and the rest of us can just go ahead and make a post then get on with our lives.

    There are many plugins that use post formats like calendar plugins or helpdesk plugins (but the end user doesn’t see or have to deal with it). It just works.

    When the post UI is right in your face on the post page, it is totally confusing and inhibits posting for the average user. You have to decide which one to pick, how you want something to look and if you even need to pick anything at all?!

    Quite a barrier before you even write one word.

    If this is ever released into the core (and not a separate plugin), expect a lengthy education campaign. People will just plain be confused.

    Developers don’t forget about the average user…it could be your neighbor, one of your friends or even your grandmother!

  19. @Rob Had you tested 3.6? There was no need to make a choice, no more than in 3.5 with Twenty Twelve or earlier versions with Twenty Eleven. You could leave things in the default post format and write ordinary posts until the cows came home. Inserting images, galleries, videos, etc. into a default-format post worked normally. Perhaps the row of post format selection buttons across the top of the page would be more distracting than the post format metabox in the right sidebar on account of being larger, but I wouldn’t think they’d make a huge difference. (And they go away in the distraction-free editor.)

    And your grandmother, frankly, is probably better off installing Jetpack and using the post by email function, because we all know that the WordPress visual editor is an instrument of the devil.

  20. The overwhelming majority of my clients use WordPress for either their main business or ministry websites. Those are users who rarely have any use for post formats.

    I had a big issue with the post format UI being enabled by default, especially when upgrading existing sites. I was looking at a whole lot of work before they were yanked.

    On the one hand I was going to have to go through all of my client sites and disable the post format UI when I upgraded their sites. The other option would have been explaining over and over again what post formats actually are and how even though things suddenly looked very different in their dashboards, it still worked the same. Mostly.

    Either way, it looked to be a long summer for me.

    Post formats are great for all the folks using WP as a pure blogging platform. But with all the effort we as a community put into breaking the “WordPress is just for blogging and not a serious CMS” stigma over the years I’m amazed that the core devs were going to make this tumble blog feature enabled by default.

  21. No No No Bad idea to remove formats from the core. At least make it as add theme support and dont make a fancy layout cluttered button in the edit pages. Leave the metabox as it is.

    I just started building themes based on the formats. It filles the gap between categories and theme templates. The latter is to present the structure of the page view and the format to grain the content part in the tamplate, without adding new themes.

    For example, in setups as CMS, internal projects with cistom post types and diffrent layers of front end access, a small status format can be adjusted for the contents purpose in layout and script funstions. List formats in categories and make all image format posts open in modal etc etc.

    The format UI make it possible to adjust the responsive desgin and views for diffrent roles.

    This is a huge step back to remove the UI and the future of using WP as a cloud service and much more.

    I agree formats is an overkill for users with default Twenty themes, but the few of us who extend the wordpress world, please respect the small voices in this matter

    / Jonas Lundman, coordinator and project manager.


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